CES 2021 Featured New Tech and Designs for Kitchen, Bath and Elsewhere

January’s virtual CES 2021 showcased some interesting new products for kitchen, bath and other rooms, which were described in an article by Melissa Dittmann Tracey of Realtor Magazine.

For kitchen appliances, there’s a move toward more intelligent and colorful appliances. Rita and I have one of Samsung’s Family Hub refrigerators, and we like it! You can display a slide show of pictures from a thumb drive, or even mirror your WiFi-connected TV from another room.

Samsung is offering its Bespoke refrigerators in eight glass or steel colors: gray glass; sky blue glass, navy steel, champagne steel, matte black steel, navy glass, white glass, and rose pink glass.

LG introduced its “Furniture Concept Appliances,” which make sense now that open floor plans are commonly combining kitchen, dining room and family room. Their appliances come in several materials and color combos.

Another trend featured in the article was toward a “wellness” design for bathrooms, inspired by the greater amount of time everyone is spending at home because of Covid. Kohler’s $16,000 “Stillness Bath” (above) is an extreme example of this: “It mixes water, light, fog, and essential oils and features an infinity-style water cascade that falls onto a Hinoki wood moat that then recirculates the water back into the bathtub.”  No thanks!

LG also introduced a $2,599 “Wash Tower” which is nothing more than a stacked washer and dryer in a single unit with controls of both units between the two. I don’t like this because Rita and I are completely sold on the new style of high efficiency washing machines which are top loading with a glass top and no agitator, also sold by LG. They are smart units which, among other things, sense the size of your load and only introduce the amount of water needed for that load. 

As you’d expect, there were lots of innovations displayed by TV manufacturers. I like the idea of Samsung’s The Frame (above): “An extra-slim 4K television, attempts to turn the TV into actual artwork that you can hang on your wall like a picture frame.” When you’re not watching TV, it can display a painting or picture of your choosing or, presumably, a slide show like you are used to viewing on the electronic picture frames available for years.

This Climate Change Movie Is a Must-See

Of all the movies I watched during last month’s Colorado Environmental Film Festival, “Kiss the Ground” was by far the most impactful. It won the festival’s top  award, and deservedly so.

You will learn so much, as I did, from this 84-minute documentary about agriculture, farming, carbon sequestration and climate change. Schools can stream a 45-minute version of it free, including if you are doing home schooling. Visit www.KissTheGroundMovie.com to stream it. The rest of us can rent it for a dollar, or find the full-length documentary on Netflix.

The central thesis of the movie is that the mass tillage and spraying of farmlands under industrial farming is destroying the soil’s natural ability to sequester carbon. By the end of the movie you’ll be convinced that “regenerative farming” is the solution of our CO2 crisis.

The narrator of the movie is Woody Harrelson, who starts out by saying that he had given up on saving the planet from the effects of climate change, until he realized that the solution is “as old as dirt.”

A key character in the documentary is Ray Archuleta, a conservation agronomist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly the Soil Conservation Service created by FDR to deal with the causes of the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s, when excessive tillage of farmland had caused massive erosion and dust storms.

The goal of NRCS agents like Archuleta is to reduce tillage and the use of chemicals that damage the soil. Achieving that counter-revolution would allow the soil to absorb and sequester enough carbon to solve the climate crisis, the film asserts. It’s a powerful argument.

I challenge you to watch the first 10 minutes of this film, and you will want to watch the remaining 74 minutes. You’ll get a huge education about the importance of soil health to the future of our planet. There’s a trailer on the website.

Green Home of the Month for March 2021

   Steve Nixon is a project manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He had this home built to his specifications in 2012. It has many passive solar features, solar photovoltaics, and a heat recovery ventilator, which are all explained  at GreenHomeOfTheMonth.com. Outside, it has a buffalo grass lawn requiring no water or mowing, and drip irrigation for its garden.

Big Battery-Electric Trucks Are Coming Soon

Previously I wrote about 2021 being “the year of the electric pickup.” Well, this year is also going to see the arrival of multiple box trucks, buses (including school buses), and big rigs with electric drive trains.

Rivian is already delivering on its order of 100,000 electric delivery trucks for Amazon, shown here. Nikola has an order from Republic Services for 5,000 trash trucks using the same platform as their semi tractor (below). Even Detroit Diesel, despite its name, is going to be producing a battery-electric semi tractor (also below) for its biggest customer, Freightliner.

The Tesla Semi (bottom) begins production by the end of 2021. Introduced with great fanfare in 2017, it has been field tested, I’m told, delivering trailer loads of Tesla cars to local Tesla stores. One was spotted last year at the Littleton store.

Want to keep up with EV news? Subscribe to a great weekly newsletter at www.GreenCarReports.com.

Nikola semi tractor
Detroit Diesel electric tractor schematic
Tesla Semi

NAR’s ‘Clear Cooperation’ Policy Is a First Step at Eliminating Pocket Listings

A “pocket listing” is a property which the listing agent does not put on the MLS, hoping to sell it himself or get it sold by other agents in his office. It’s not typically in the best interest of the seller, since the property is withheld from the full universe of potential buyers.

The organizing principle of the Multi-List System, or MLS, is “cooperation and compensation.” Every real estate agent working in the public arena needs to belong to the local MLS, because it’s only through the MLS that the agent can show and sell that MLS’s listings and be guaranteed the “co-op” commission displayed on the MLS.

A listing agent, naturally, would prefer not to give a big slice of the listing commission to the “cooperat-ing” broker who brings the buyer. He or she would much rather sell the listing, keeping the entire commission for him or herself. Meanwhile, other agents (and their buyers) are upset when they don’t have the opportunity to show a new listing and submit an offer, especially when there are so few listings on the market, as is currently the case.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) took up the issue of pocket listings last year when it adopted a policy called Clear Cooperation. Essentially the policy says that if an MLS member advertises or promotes a listing in any way — including putting a “coming soon” sign in the yard or mentioning it on social media — that listing must be entered on the MLS within 24 hours. It can be listed as “coming soon” on the MLS, during which time it can’t be shown, including by the listing agent. Once it is shown, it must immediately be changed to “active,” allowing all MLS members to show and sell it.

Unfortunately for sellers, who are the big losers with pocket listings, this policy will never be completely effective. That is evident from the fact that over 7% of listings, by my count, are entered on the MLS only after they are sold. Unless a home remains active on the MLS for 3 or 4 days, it’s unlikely that all potential buyers will have had a chance to compete for it.

You may recall the featured listing in last week’s column. It was listed at $375,000, a price consistent with comparable sales, and we received a full-price offer on the first day. Our policy, however, is to get our sellers to wait four days before going under contract. We had 30 showings and received six offers by day four. By being transparent about the offers received, we were able to bid up the property by  more than $55,000 by day four. We did get an offer $35,000 over listing price on day two, but we waited. Our seller benefited from waiting 2 more days.

Sadly, most listing agents haven’t adopted this practice. They sell their listings too quickly, potentially costing their sellers thousands but also frustrating would-be buyers who might pay more. 

I have calculated that in addition to the 7% of listings being sold with zero days on the MLS, 15% are sold after only 1 or 2 days on the MLS.

One technique for minimizing showings by other agents has been to make a listing “active” but block showings with the showing service. Because the listing is “active,” the listing agent can show the property him or herself without technically violating the clear cooperation policy.

Another technique is the “office exclusive” option.  A listing can be marketed within a brokerage without putting it on the MLS. But once any kind of public marketing takes place, the listing must immediately be put on the MLS as either “coming soon” or “active.”

Candelas Home Just Listed by David Dlugasch

17830 W. 94th Drive, Arvada – Just listed for $675,000

This 4-bedroom, 3-bath home backs to open space. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, a gas range, granite countertops with beautiful backsplash, and lots of light. The dining area opens through sliding glass doors to a covered deck, perfect for fair weather entertaining. The family room has large windows, recessed lighting and engineered hardwood flooring. Also on the main floor is an office/den with new carpeting and a half bath. The upper level has the master suite with 5-piece master bath and walk-in closet. Two other bedrooms are carpeted, and the third has hardwood laminate flooring. See more pictures and details at www.CandelasHome.info, then call your agent or David Dlugasch at 303-908-4835 to arrange a private showing.

Just Listed: 1-Bedroom Condo in Downtown Golden

Gateway Station is the fabulous 2007 condo building at 1275 Washington Ave. in the heart of downtown Golden. Unit R408, at 1,084 square feet, is one of the smaller and more affordable units in this highly coveted building.  From its open balcony, enjoy a view of North Table Mountain. Outside, enjoy the countless shops and restaurants along Washington Avenue and on the side streets. (Learn about them all at www.VisitGolden.com.) Although this is a 1-bedroom unit, a Murphy bed in the living room and second bathroom can accommodate your short-term guests. Take a video tour at www.GoldenCondo.info, then call your agent or Jim Smith at 303-525-1851 to set a private showing.

All this furniture – Murphy bed, desks, shelving and drawers, is built-in and included!
View of North Table Mountain from this 4th floor unit’s balcony.

Just Listed: Westminster Townhome with a 2-Car Garage

8762 Allison Dr. #E – Just listed for $340,000

This townhome-style condo has it all. Downtown Westminster is minutes away to the east and Standley Lake is equally close to the west. It has 2 bedrooms, 2½ baths and an oversized 2-car garage. The entire unit was recently painted and includes a new furnace and water heater. The skylights provide lots of natural light in the loft area. Just add your desk and work from home! The large master has a full en suite bathroom with double sinks. Enjoy the lovely outdoor pool during the summer. See more pictures and take a narrated video tour at www.WestminsterHome.info, then call your agent or Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to set a private showing.

Front porch
Open floor plan
Four skylights! Two for downstairs, two for the loft!
One of two bedrooms

Wide Acres Ranch Just Listed by Ty Scrable

1220 Meadowsweet Road – Just listed for $689,000

You’re going to love this home. It sits on a 13,957-sq.-ft. lot, so bring your toys. Plenty of parking in the long driveway and the 3-car garage. Inside you will find two bedrooms and an office with hardwood floors. Near the updated kitchen is a large living room area with a stone fireplace and windows overlooking the backyard. Next is the master bedroom which includes its own full bath. The rear of the home includes a large mudroom with a half bath. Last but not least is the spacious shop which is open to the super-clean and heated garage and comes with many tools and 240Volt power. This location is less than 5 minutes to I-70 and 6th Avenue. Take a narrated video tour at www.WideAcresHome.net, then  call your agent or Ty Scrable at 720-281-6783 to set a showing.

Dining room and kitchen
Family Room
Kitchen with slab granite countertops and stainless steel appliances
Workshop with epoxy floor, bay windows and lots of included tools!